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Pastel de Cabracho: A Unique Delight from Spanish Cuisine

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Pastel de Cabracho, also known as Scorpionfish Pudding, is a distinctive dish hailing from the Basque region of Spain. Despite its name, it does not actually contain pudding in the traditional sense; instead, it’s a savory seafood terrine made primarily with scorpionfish, a flavorful and delicate fish found in the Atlantic waters near Spain. This dish showcases the creativity and culinary prowess of Spanish chefs, combining fish with other ingredients to create a creamy and flavorful appetizer or main course.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb scorpionfish fillets, cooked and flaked (you can also use other white fish like cod or hake)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Pinch of saffron threads (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Butter and breadcrumbs for greasing and dusting the mold
  • Lemon wedges and fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the Scorpionfish:
    • If the scorpionfish fillets are not already cooked, poach them in simmering water until they are cooked through and flake easily with a fork. Drain and let cool, then flake the fish into small pieces, removing any bones or skin.
  2. Sauté the Aromatics:
    • In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and minced garlic, sautéing until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Combine Ingredients:
    • In a large bowl, combine the flaked scorpionfish, sautéed onion and garlic mixture, breadcrumbs, milk, heavy cream, dry white wine, tomato paste, saffron threads (if using), and eggs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  4. Preheat the Oven:
    • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a loaf pan or a mold with butter and dust with breadcrumbs to prevent sticking.
  5. Bake the Pastel de Cabracho:
    • Pour the fish mixture into the prepared mold, smoothing the top with a spatula. Cover the mold with aluminum foil.
  6. Bake in a Water Bath:
    • Place the mold in a larger baking dish. Pour hot water into the baking dish to create a water bath around the mold, ensuring it reaches about halfway up the sides of the mold.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45-50 minutes, or until the pastel de cabracho is set and firm to the touch. Remove the mold from the water bath and let it cool for about 10-15 minutes.
  8. Serve:
    • Once cooled slightly, carefully unmold the pastel de cabracho onto a serving platter. Garnish with lemon wedges and freshly chopped parsley.

Variations and Serving Suggestions:

  • Sauce: Serve with a side of aioli or a light tomato sauce for additional flavor.
  • Accompaniments: Enjoy pastel de cabracho with crusty bread or a simple green salad dressed with vinaigrette.

Conclusion: Pastel de Cabracho exemplifies the ingenuity and seafood richness of Basque cuisine, offering a delightful blend of flavors and textures in every bite. Whether served as an appetizer or a main course, this dish showcases the versatility and creativity of Spanish cooking, making it a unique addition to any dining experience. By following this recipe, you can recreate the flavors of Spain’s coastal regions right in your own kitchen, delighting family and friends with the savory goodness of pastel de cabracho.

Enjoy the delicate flavors of Pastel de Cabracho and savor the creamy texture of scorpionfish pudding, creating a memorable culinary journey through Spain’s culinary landscape!

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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